A large scale retail and residential development is coming to the Wooster Street area in New Haven, a project which city officials hope will connect downtown with Wooster Square.
Mayor Toni N. Harp and city officials joined developers from Epimoni Corp. and Adam America Real Estate Thursday for a groundbreaking ceremony at the site, which is bordered by Union, Fair and Olive streets.
The project includes demolishing existing buildings and building 299 rental apartments and 6,000 square feet of retail space. The apartments will include a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
Developer Darren Seid, president and founder of Epimoni Corp. in New York City, said at the groundbreaking, "With these apartments, retail space and parking, it will become a prime retail destination."
According to Seid, the city's history and the influence of Yale University gives New Haven a "charm."
"It is a city that has incredible fundamentals and a growth trajectory," he said.
When asked about the project's timeline, Seid said he couldn't give a firm completion date yet. The developers are also not yet naming potential retail tenants.
Peter Antoniou, project manager with Adam America Real Estate, said he "fell in love" with New Haven the first time he visited.
"Everyone has been so welcoming, and we look forward to making the connection between downtown and Wooster Square successful," he said.
Harp also asserted the project will create a "retail destination" at Olive and Wooster streets.
The city has seen a growing demand for apartment rentals in the neighborhoods near Yale University, hospitals and companies, according to Harp.
"This new project underscores how New Haven is becoming a self-contained urban oasis," Harp said.
Michael Piscitelli, interim economic development administrator for the city, noted the site is near an area well known for its pizza, and it is a five-minute walk from Union Station.
"This is a culturally iconic area in New England," Piscitelli said. "This residential and mixed use really speaks to the desire to have an environment where you can live, work and play."
Ward 8 Alderman Aaron Greenberg said the project will "restitch" the Wooster Square area with downtown.
"I'm thrilled about this," Greenberg said. "Hundreds of new residents will be close to pizza, the park and the farmer's market. The developer will do a great job to revitalize this really important corner of Wooster Square."
The neighborhood is within walking distance of CitySeed Farmers Market and Wooster Square Park.
Garrett Sheehan, president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, said having a mixture of apartments and stores will "energize" the area.
"New Haven is the place to be," he said.